Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal)

There has never been a more urgent time for art to be accessible, and La Loge believes that artists can help to make sense of this moment and keep us connected while at home.

While La Loge was temporarily closed, we were happy to share with you a small selection of Uriel Orlow's work over the course of the two following weeks, of which one film, Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal), is included in the exhibition Learning from Artemisia.

Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal)
2017, 28 minutes, black and white / colour, 16:9, original format: HD video

Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal) is an experimental documentary set at the edge of a nature reserve in Johannesburg. A kind of Brechtian ‘Lehrstück’, the film shows the preparations for a people’s tribunal where traditional healers, activists and lawyers come together to discuss indigenous knowledge and bio-prospecting. The pharmaceutical industry has come to consider traditional medicine as a source for identification of new bioactive agents that can be used in the preparation of synthetic medicine. This raises new questions about intellectual copyright protection of indigenous knowledge. Imbizo Ka Mafavuke asks who benefits when plants become pharmaceuticals, given multiple claims to ownership, priority, locality and appropriation. The protagonists in the film slip into different roles and make use of real-world cases involving multinational pharmaceuticals scouting in indigenous communities for the next wonder drug. Ghosts of colonial explorers, botanists and judges observe the proceedings.